In 1992, much before the explosive BBC interview with Martin Bashir, there was Andrew Morton’s biography – Diana: Her True Story. This book carries Diana’s devastatingly candid revelations about her unhappy marriage, her battle with bulimia, lack of support from the Queen and her husband Prince Charles during the early difficult days of her marriage. Some of the taped conversations secretly recorded by Morton in 1991 (Diana was his source for the book), was made into a documentary Diana: In Her Own Words by National Geographic in 2017. It was then telecast on Channel 4 in the UK, and this tell-all docu is now available on Disney+Hotstar.
It’s an eye-opener since she speaks about her life from the time of her unhappy childhood, her early courtship days with Charles, her battle with bulimia – how she was sick most of the time during her engagement, her honeymoon and in the early days of her marriage. And, the beginning of her tortured relationship with the press, who had “hired the opposite flat on Old Brompton Road” which overlooked her bedroom, when they knew she was dating Charles, England’s most eligible bachelor.
She even describes her wedding as “the worst day of my life” and being a “lamb to the slaughter” in the tapes.
The documentary brings out an unflattering portrait of her as well. There’s an incident in which she reveals that she tried to get her husband’s attention by throwing herself down the stairs and how the episode had frightened the Queen. Or, the time she picked up a pen knife and slashed her chest and her thighs because her husband was not listening to her. She also reveals how the Queen believed her bulimia had led to the collapse of her marriage.
She speaks of her confrontation with Camilla Parker, and how she handled it with aplomb. After getting it off her chest, Diana finds a psychiatrist who helps her to regain her self-esteem. And, she talks of her transformation from a “victim to a victor” and becoming a darling of the press and the world, much to her husband’s chagrin. Check it out if you cannot get enough of Diana’s tragic life.
The Crown season 4 also revived interest in Lady Diana in India all over again. Netflix then released another two-part docu, The Story of Diana, which features interviews with historians, experts and people who knew Diana personally. It also has an interaction with Diana’s brother Charles Spencer who talks about her time as a royal and the heavy cost of fame.Away from Royal sagas, there’s a delightful film that recently landed on Amazon Prime Video.
Sandeep, a young pregnant girl harbouring corporate secrets and Pinky, a suspended cop are on the run together. The Hindi film, Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar does not have much of a plot except that this couple is trying to make it across the border to Nepal and escape the clutches of their respective bosses.
They take refuge with an elderly couple (Raghuvir Yadav and Neena Gupta) in the Himalayan town of Pithoragarh. Yadav is a crotchety old man, who keeps his good-natured, long-suffering wife on a tight leash and both seasoned actors play the role with ease. But, it is Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti, who shine in this drama which starts off with a bloody shootout.
Even as Sandeep (Arjun Kapoor’s name is Pinky and the masculine moniker goes to Parineeti) strikes a financial bargain with Pinky to cart her to safety. Both develop a deep bond though not a romantic one. One of the film’s highlights is an item dance number executed by Pinky (a lumbering Kapoor turns extremely agile and nimble in this dance number). It is a film that bends gender to take a dig at Sheila ki Jawani dance numbers in commercial cinema which ends up objectifying women. There’s also a creepy rape attempt scene, which sets the nerves on edge. People can nitpick about the ending but this quirky Dibakar Banerjee film is a great weekend watch.
In fact, popular Malayalam actor, Tovino Thomas in fact took to Instagram to praise both actors, especially his “bro” Arjun Kapoor. Tovino’s psychological thriller Kala too is
streaming on Amazon. A rider: if you can handle pure, unmitigated violence, check this one
out. The movie begins at a slow pace building up the “simple life” on an estate – there is
Shaji (played by Tovino), a complex character who suffers from a heady mix of male ego,
low self-esteem, and arrogance for being a landlord’s son.
A domineering father (Lal) who taunts him all the time for his inadequacies and a lovely wife (Divya Pillai), who Shaji spends most of his time romancing. Tovino kills a mongrel which belongs to a poor young lad (brilliantly played by Sumesh Moor) and this triggers a bloody battle between him and Moor. They beat each other to pulp in innovative ways for the rest of the film.
Moor becomes like a betaal on his back, refusing to let go until he sucks out all his pride, and strips him of his maleness and ego. It’s hard-hitting, layered and a “political” film, which also drives home that we are all beasts at heart (we saw how that was done so brilliantly in Jallikattu). The sharply edited film has tight frames, close ups and some very beautiful shots of nature. About his role in Kala, Tovino said in a statement, “The movie is a psychological thriller and my character Shaji is one who is consistently struggling with himself and is a very rough kind of a person.”
The muscular, handsome Tovino, who has a strong fan base in Chennai too, is now gearing up for the release of his upcoming Malayalam biographical crime drama film, Kurup. Helmed by Srinath Rajendran, the multi-starrer film also features Dulquer Salmaan, Sobhita Dhulipala, Indrajith Sukumaran, and Sunny Wayne in pivotal roles. Meanwhile, another Malayalam movie, Aarkkariyam, a Hitchcock-like mystery with a shocking twist is notching up good reviews and comes highly recommended.
There is no shortage of thrillers on OTT platforms however. It’s a veritable feast. What’s more, Indians are getting an opportunity to see mystery series from all over the world, including distant Iceland. The Icelandic thriller series –Trapped– is a smash hit. It is set in a hauntingly beautiful, remote fishing town where a police team is on the hunt for the killer, even as a blizzard hits the town. The creators have called it a “mix of Nordic noir and Agatha Christie” and a dose of David Attenborough because of the stunning surroundings in which it is set.
There’s another mystery mini-series from Spain – The Innocent. It is an adaptation of a 2005 Harlan Coban novel of the same name. Incidentally, Netflix and prolific crime writer, Coban have struck a deal to make 14 movie adaptations of his novels. This is the third one, and centres on a young man Mateo, whose life dramatically changes when he accidentally kills a guy in a bar brawl. When he comes out of prison, he builds his life again, gets married to the woman he loves and becomes the head of a law firm.
However, his wife suddenly seems to have another life, a man sends him disturbing videos and he is dragged into the murder investigation of a nun. There’s a parallel story of a determined woman detective who has her own bloody crosses to bear. The eight episode series takes on twists and turns that can make you dizzy and happily hooked.
What’s New: Radha Mohan’s Malaysia to Amnesia and Telugu film Ek Mini Katha, Friends: The Reunionon Zee5, and the Huma Qureshi helmedMaharani on SonyLiv. On Aha Video, there’s the Sai Pallavi and Fahad Faasil starrer,Anukoni Athidhi, (the Telugu dubbed version of the 2019 Malayalam film Athiran, which incidentally is available on Disney+Hostar). A psychiatrist (Faasil) is tasked by the government to check out an asylum which is being run by using unconventional methods, including incarceration and memory erasure techniques. He comes across Nithya (Sai Pallavi), a patient who stirs Nair’s curiosity. The film failed to attract good reviews when it released in cinemas but the cast, which includes Atul Kulkarni excites curiosity.